Media Composer Tips & Tricks

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Of the non linear editing systems I blog about, I rarely discuss Avid, unless I’m comparing it to other NLEs or highlighting new features in updated versions. I decided, that for this article, I want it to be Avid-centric with tips and tricks because there are a ton of them available. In fact, I can honestly say there are more tips for using Avid Media Composer than there are for other editing software. I’m going to highlight a few that stood out to me while using the program. Professionally, I’ve only used Avid about five times, and, in most situations, it was because it was a freelance job that required it. Currently, I don’t use it as much, but I have a lot of respect for those who do, considering it is used to edit major episodic television shows and Hollywood feature films. So, let’s learn some tips and tricks of using Media Composer.

Create Quick Transitions Bin

In this quick tutorial, Genius DV master trainer Jon Lynn shows us how easy it is to create a bin for commonly used transitions. First, choose a transition of your liking and apply it to your edit point. If you want, you can customize it in the Effect Editor window. Next, navigate to the Bins tab and create a new bin called “Quick Transitions.” Make sure you type this out case sensitive or else this process won’t work. In the Effect Editor window, drag the custom transition into the Quick Transitions bin. With that in place, you can click on the Quick Transitions button, click on the drop down menu, and you’ll see you custom transition there.  I have to say that this is one feature I wish Premiere and FCPX had emulated. I know in Final Cut Pro 7 you could create favorites bin and put effects/transitions there, but to have a button able to call them up whenever you’d like would be a timesaver.

Batch Rendering Sequences on Export

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This is a handy tip for those projects that have multiple sequences that need to be rendered. With the work I do for a living, multiple sequences are an every project occurrence. To batch render sequences on export in Media Composer, select all your sequences in their respective bin. Open the Export Settings window and select Quicktime Reference Movie. Click on the Render All Video Effects and hit OK. Now, all your sequences will be rendered in a small Quicktime file to check if things are correct or need to be fixed. You can create a preset out of this in the Export Settings window to save time in the future.

Mapping Editing Workspaces

In this informative tutorial, editing guru and Lynda.com instructor Ashley Kennedy breaks down how to map the Media Composer workspace to your needs. She shows us how to create a custom editing workspace, as well as a workspace for audio editing. Saving a timeline view is as simple as a click at the bottom of the timeline, clicking on Untitled, and choosing Save As. From there, you are presented with a dialog window where you can name your timeline view. She goes into detail explaining how managing the Settings tab can assist in workspaces you may use at various stages of the edit. In my opinion, this is a great video to reference for the times when you step away from Media Composer and forget how to manage workspaces effectively.

Overall, this is a small collection of tips and tricks you can find out about Media Composer. With their active forums and user groups across the internet, you can easily get more acquainted with Media Composer than most NLEs out there. In my opinion, it pays to know Media Composer if you have plans to edit episodic television or major feature films. It is still the dominant editing platform when it comes to delivering those type of projects, and for good reason.

Royalty Free Music

Templates in Premiere Pro

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One of the many benefits of using templates are their ability to be a good starting point on anything you work on. When I started out as an editor, I was amazed by the templates that were created for After Effects and Apple Motion. There are templates for smooth text animations, video displays and much more. One more intricate and complex than the next. However, I now believe templates should serve the purpose of efficiency and speed from a workflow standpoint and not having to reinvent the wheel repeatedly. An attitude I adopted from being a longtime Final Cut Pro user is having a template for just about everything. Have a template for how you want your bins structured in the project panel. Create title templates for commonly used text treatments. Have a combination of templates and presets for commonly used effects like color correction, motion graphics, transitions and more. I believe that if you have templates for these situations, it will undoubtedly speed up how you move in Premiere Pro.

Project Templates

As I mentioned in a previous article about bin structure, you want to have a set of bins you most commonly use. However, I didn’t go as in depth about creating a project file that has those bins. One thing I strongly recommend is creating a project file that has your most commonly used bins. Make sure you never import any assets in it and do a Save As. I would name this something unique so you can remember it for future purposes.

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Next time you open a new project, import the project file with your bins. Move the bins from the project folder containing them. You can delete or not delete the project after you do this.

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Now, whenever you need bins and you don’t want to go through the process of recreating them for each project, you can use this method. The template project file is also useful if you have PostHaste. PostHaste has the ability import project files from Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop and other post production software. You can utilize this option as an alternative if you so choose.

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Title Templates

Premiere Pro comes with an assortment of title templates which you download from the content library from Adobe. They are all great for a variety of situations. If you find yourself creating a lot of text for lower thirds, I recommend downloading this pdf from PremierePro.net. If you want to try another method, I would first create the text as you need it to look in the Title Tool.

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Next, click on the templates button in the Title Tool. Click on the arrow drop down. Select the option to Import Current Title as Template. Now, you will have that title saved for any text needed for lower thirds, slide explanations, animations etc. You don’t have to reinvent them from scratch. A button I use a lot when creating text with the same style is the New Title Based on Current Title button. This helps in creating multiple version of the same text repeatedly.

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Effect Presets and Templates

One of the many things that helped me stay fast and efficient in Final Cut Pro was creating presets for transitions and filters that I used often. In Premiere Pro, you have the ability to create presets for effects you use often. However, there are some effects which may require multiple presets and/or nested sequences. Recently, I’ve become a creator of transition and effects templates files for Premiere. In those files, I have unique effects and transitions that I could see myself using on a project regularly. Some of those effects include video reflections, track matte composites, repeating animations and much more. Here are a few steps you can take for creating effect/transition templates for Premiere.

First, create sequences for the most commonly used formats you deal with. Have a sequence for SD and HD formats so you don’t run into any scaling issues.

Second, use placeholder images or one of the many layer options in Premiere like color matte, bars and tone or title. Below is an example of a placeholder I use on my project templates. The reason you want to do this is so you can apply all the effects and keyframes on that. From there, all you would need to do is perform a replace edit to swap out the placeholder with your footage so it can take on its properties.

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I’ve found utilizing this method to benefit me quite well especially coming from a FCP mindset. You can check out one of the many project files I’ve created here for Premiere.

I hope the concept of utilizing templates in this fashion helps you become a more efficient and faster editor. As editors, we should do everything we can to not take us out of the creative path we’re on to do deal with the technical issues. If we use base templates for our projects, titles and effects, we are granted more time to focus on the creative process. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to learn, practice and evolve.

Royalty Free Music

Creating a Bin Structure Inside Your NLE

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One of the things I pride myself on having when I edit a project is a proper bin structure. When you are tasked with having a project that contains over 100 clips of footage, titles and miscellaneous assets such as photos, logos, motion graphics and more, your project browser can get very messy very quickly. Below is an example of a typical bin structure I utilize on projects. I add or delete bins based on my needs so this can change at a moment’s notice. I’m going to breakdown the significance of each bin and some of their sub bins so that you get an idea on how to structure your bin organization.

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Audio

In this bin it’s obvious what’s placed here. I have sub bins for royalty free music tracks and sound effects. If I need an additional sub bin for something like voiceovers, I would create another bin and title that VO. If I want to get even more picky and specific, I would create sub bins for audio formats such as .mp3, .wav or .aiff. I would create sub bins within the music sub bin and sound effects sub bin for each of those formats. The benefit of doing that is to know what format I’m dealing instead of grouping everything into one bin and being none the wiser.

Images

In this bin is where I place client images, artwork, logos and more. In this particular example, I have sub bins for many of the popular image formats such as jpeg, png, tiff, psd. With images, it’s really easy for it to become messy and confusing if you just import all your images into one bin labeled images. This sub bin structure is meant to help sort and differentiate between what I have to work with. In most situations, I may not need all these sub bins but I keep them in case I’m given more client images down the line.

Mograph

This bin is meant to hold any motion graphics elements I plan to use or any exports that were created in After Effects. I may have custom motion graphics I created and plan to use and the last thing I want is it scattered all over the place. AE renders is a base folder I would use when starting a project. I could add sub bins within that labeled client custom mograph or segments to reflect graphics exported from After Effects that need specific bins. The other sub bin you see has the name of some popular royalty free graphics developers I use on regular basis. This sub bin has a tendency to grow or shrink depending on the need of the project. For most cases, I usually have at least 3-5 sub bins in this section just in case.

Footage

By far the most important bin to have in any structure. This is where my footage will go but I usually have several sub bins with the Master Clips bin. I like to label my footage bin from what card and shooter/camera they came from so I can reference them in case anything goes offline. There are obviously different ways to go about this but essentially all footage will go here. If I plan on using sub clips in the edit, I would create a folder for that and place them there. I tend to rarely use sub clips in most edits I do because I have a different method of sorting my footage.

Sequences

It is in this bin where I’m extra picky and cautiously organized. I keep versions of my main sequences as the project progresses usually appending them with something like this: Project Name_Main_01. With the underscores, I am able to go back to the first cut of my main sequence in case I need to start over or pick an arrangement that worked previously.

The selects reel bin is meant to have sequences of my footage grouped by the following criteria: b-roll and sound bites. What I do is go through my master clips and drop them in the appropriate titled sequence. For example, if I come across footage that has interviews or dialogue relevant to my edit, I would drop them in my sound bites sequence. That way I no longer need to use my project panel to search for specific clips. I can go through my selects sequences for either interviews or b-roll and grab what I need. I found this method very efficient and it also allows me to move faster.

Conclusion

This bin structure is a useful base for which I organize most of my projects. With it, I can add or delete bins if needed and keep everything as organized as possible. It’s good to have an evolving bin structure as one structure may not always be sufficient and you need to examine how to make it better for any specific project. Overall, utilize a bin structure to maintain your sanity and have peace of mind when you are editing. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

Royalty Free Music